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Lofton shoots Tennessee past Memphis

Dec 7, 2006 - 4:31 AM KNOXVILLE, Tennessee (Ticker) -- Memphis never had a chance the way Chris Lofton was shooting.

Lofton scored a career-high 34 points to spark Tennessee to a 76-58 victory over No. 17 Memphis.

Lofton surpassed his previous season high of 31 points set against Louisiana-Lafayette. He hit 12-of-18 shots, including 6-of-11 from 3-point range in shooting over 50 percent from the field for the fifth time this season.

"Chris Lofton is amazing," Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl said. "We talk about getting better, because our team is so young, but tonight does not happen without the whole group working to allow Lofton to win the game. That is what happened to Chris."

A 6-2 junior guard, Lofton was sensational in the first half, scoring 21 points on 9-of-11 shooting to carry the Vols to a 43-22 lead over their intrastate rival.

Tennessee (7-2) outscored Memphis, 35-11, to close the opening 20 minutes, with Lofton scoring 14 points in the final 6:34.

"Chris Lofton is unbelievable," Tigers coach John Calipari said. "Their whole team played well. They played inspired. We did not play particularly well, but you have got to give them a lot of credit."

Seemingly out of it, the Tigers started to claw back in the second half behind Chris Douglas-Roberts, whose eight points cut the deficit to 47-35 with 13:13 to play.

Lofton answered with a 3-pointer, starting a streak where he scored the next 10 points for Tennessee in a 62-second span to make it 57-42 with 10:28 to play.

"We got it to 11 or 12 in the second half and I thought, 'Let's get it to eight, seven, and see how they play,'" Calipari said. "But what happens is, turnover, offensive rebound, bad shot, and I am like, 'What are we doing?' We deserved to get beat by 20 points because of how we played."

Memphis (6-2) kept hanging around before Lofton finally put things out of reach with his sixth 3-pointer of the game for a 70-54 cushion with 3 1/2 minutes to play.

"It's about getting better and seeing where we go from here," Pearl said. "I am happy we won the game, but we have a lot of work to do."

Dane Bradshaw had 11 points and nine rebounds and freshman Duke Crews added nine and 10 for the Vols, who have won three straight games since losing twice in the NIT Season Tip-Off in New York.

"Crews is a tough guy. He showed that tonight," Pearl said. "There was some battling going on. What courage and what character he showed. Memphis ... did not shoot well; there was an up pace in this game and their shooters were not making their shots."

Douglas-Roberts scored 19 points and Robert Dozier added 13 for the Tigers, who shot just 29 percent (22-of-77) overall and 5-of-28 from 3-point range.

    --- --- -----
    MEMPHIS (17) 22 36 58
    TENNESSEE 43 33 76 FINAL

    Dec 6 11:07 PM

    MEMPHIS (17) 22

    Dec 6 9:56 PM
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    RUWTbot Added 31 roots

    Memphis vs. TennesseeDec 6 9:56 PM